‘In the world, but not of it’
For the Nevada Appeal
Jesus taught his followers were to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s not easy to be actively engaged in society and yet to remain unspotted by the world.
The church is to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” The church is to be a change agent. She must engage her culture. She must seek the lost and make disciples for Christ. She cannot lock herself up and away from her world. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul used his contemporary culture to persuasively preach the gospel. He put the changeless truth into terms his listeners would understand.
This was the Master’s method, too. Jesus fed a hungry multitude and taught about “the Bread of life.” He told a woman who was standing by a well in order to draw water about “living water.” He gave sight to a blind man and taught him about “the Light of the world.” He raised Lazarus from the dead and declared to the former mourners they were in the presence of “the Resurrection and the Life.” He promised fisherman, after a miraculous catch of fish, he would make of them fishers of men.
Jesus often used the ordinary to teach extraordinary truths. He spoke of lilies and birds, widows and judges. He tailored His message and it fit like a glove.
When Paul wrote of becoming “all things to all men,” he was not implying he would become a sinner to the sinners. He was not in favor of just going along with the culture. He wrote to the church at Rome, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul used his contemporary culture without being conformed to it.
The gospel is the good news Jesus “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” This message is singular and non-negotiable. There is however a plurality of ways to communicate the message.
Use your culture where appropriate. Tell a modern day parable to illustrate the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
Occasionally, a Christian will be criticized for using the Master’s method. The critic should really get to know the Master better.
Fix your eyes on Jesus. Live in the world, but not of it.